Assesing Department: Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the City of Fitchburg need an Assessor?
Assessors are governed by Chapter 70 of the Wisconsin Statutes. All taxable property must be discovered, listed, and valued in a fair and equitable manner. The Assessor is not involved in establishing mill rates or in the collection of property taxes.
How is property valued?
In most cases, residential, commercial, and agricultural buildings are assessed at market value. Farmland is often assessed at Use-Value, and personal property assessments are derived from information provided on the “Statement of Personal Property”.
What is the difference between Assessed Value and Estimated Fair Market Value?
The Assessed Value is the estimated market value of your property as determined by the Assessor.
The Estimated Fair Market Value is the property’s Assessed Value divided by the average assessment ratio for the entire municipality. The average assessment ratio is the relationship between the total assessed value and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s estimate of total value for the municipality. More information on this subject can be found in the “Guide for Property Owners”.
How do I know if my assessment is correct?
Comparing sales of similar properties within your neighborhood is a good way to determine if the value is reflective of the market. Market value is defined as the amount a typical, well-informed buyer would be willing to pay for a property under typical market conditions. It is the Assessor's job to interpret what is happening in the market place.
Will my assessment change if I haven’t done anything to my property?
Even if you have made no changes to your property, it is possible that the assessed value could change. Things such as supply, demand, and inflation can influence the market which may result in a changed assessment.
If my new property is still under construction, how will it be assessed?
Assessments are based on what existed as of January 1. For example, if on the 1st of January a parcel consists of land and a building foundation, the assessment would only be for the value of the land and the foundation, not for a completed structure. After construction is completed, it will receive a full assessment the following year.
Will my property taxes increase if my assessment goes up?
The Assessor’s job is to place a fair and equitable value on each taxable property in the municipality. An increase or decrease of assessment does not necessarily mean that the amount of taxes you will pay will change. Tax rates are controlled by how much money is spent in the school districts, technical colleges, and by state, county, and local budgets.
Can I contest the amount of taxes on my tax bill at the Assessor’s Office or at the Board of Review?
No. Only the assessment can be challenged. If you feel that taxes are too high, you may contact the appropriate taxing jurisdiction.
Someone from the Assessor’s office left a yellow tag at my property. What does this mean?
An appraiser may leave a tag at your property when he/she would like to conduct a physical view of the property. In many cases, an inspection is requested if the property is newly constructed, has had a building permit, a neighborhood property analysis is being done, or if the interior of the property has never been seen. By physically viewing the property, the most accurate information will be available to the assessor. If you find a yellow tag at your property, you may call the number listed to schedule an appointment with an appraiser.
What if I do not allow the Assessor/Appraiser to enter my property?
You are not required to let someone from the Assessor’s Office into your property. A certified letter may be sent if there is no response to initial attempts to contact the property owner. If the property is not viewed internally, an estimate of value will have to be made using only the best information available. In addition, you may lose the right to appeal your assessment to the Board of Review for that assessment year if access into the property is not granted. The goal of the Assessing Department is to have the most accurate information available when assigning a value.
Will I receive an assessment notice?
The Assessor’s Office sends out a “Notice of Assessment” only if the assessment has changed from the prior year.
Can I contest my assessment?
A good time to discuss your assessment with an appraiser from the Assessor's Office is during the Open-Book session. If after discussing the value with an appraiser you are still in disagreement, you may appeal your assessment at the Board of Review. For additional information regarding the appeal process, you may refer to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s publication entitled: “Property Assessment Appeal Guide for Wisconsin Real Property Owners”
What is the Open Book session?
The open-book session is a period of time scheduled prior to the Board of Review to view the property assessment rolls, sale information, and/or speak with appraiser regarding your assessment.
What is the Board of Review?
If you still disagree with the assessed value of your property after discussing it with an appraiser at Open-Book, you may appear at the Board of Review at your scheduled date and time. The Board’s function is not one of valuation, but of deciding the validity of the facts presented by the property owner or representative and by the Assessor.
How do I schedule an appointment to appear at the Board of Review?
You may schedule an appointment by contacting the City Clerk at the number listed on your assessment notice. Written or oral notice of your intent to file an objection must be provided to the City Clerk at least 48-hours prior to the Board's first meeting. Your objection must be filed in writing with the Board of Review. Objection forms are available from the City Clerk, and must be competed in entirety.
What should I say to the Board at the time of my hearing?
Wisconsin Law states the Board of Review must uphold the Assessor’s valuation unless the property owner proves the value to be wrong. Therefore, the property owner must give sworn oral testimony and evidence relating to the value of the property. This evidence can be a recent sale of the property, sales of comparable properties, recent appraisals, or other such evidence that would give the Board of Review cause to change the assessment.
Where can I view property assessments for the City of Fitchburg?
Property assessment rolls are available for viewing in the Assessor’s Office. In addition, Dane County provides general assessment information on their web site Access Dane. Please keep in mind that if the assessment roll is not complete for that year, the assessments for the previous year are carried over into the current year on the web site until final values are received from the municipality. If you need specific information for properties located in the City of Fitchburg, you may contact the Assessing Department’s Main Line:(608) 270-4235. Manufacturing property is not assessed at the local level. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue assesses all manufacturing property in the State of Wisconsin.
If I would like an appraiser from the Assessor’s Office to view my property, can I schedule an appointment?
Yes. Our appraisers are here to assure that we have the best information on record for your property.